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Dark Brilliance: Agatha Christie and Poisonous Plants

Agatha Christie

Daniel Pembrey and Helen Smith will be taking part in Dark Brilliance on Tuesday 2nd February 2016 at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London with Rebecca Chance and Kathryn Harkup.

Tickets are £15 including a glass of wine, 6-8pm. Book tickets here.

Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London. The Garden served as a site for the growing of plants used in medicines as well as an outdoor classroom for correct identification by the Society’s apprentice apothecaries and physicians. It also served as a base for the Society’s barge which enabled their global ‘herborizing’ expeditions. Correct plant identification was of course incredibly important to ensure that a selected plant would cure a patient and not the opposite.

January 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s death, and considering that only Shakespeare and the Bible can claim to have more books in circulation than her, there will be a number of events across the country to mark this. Agatha Christie was a trained apothecary, and using her knowledge of the plants that could kill or cure, she took inspiration for the poisons used in many of her murder mysteries.

Christie lived near the Garden in the 1930s and 1940s and it is very likely that she was in fact a visitor. So, it seems only fitting that a discussion of her works and the use of poisons as the murder weapon should take place at the Physic Garden.

Join us for an evening of lively discussion and debate with an expert panel of speakers featuring the following authors and poisons specialists:

Rebecca Chance is the writer of Sunday Times best-selling glamorous thrillers and crime novels. An Agatha Christie obsessive with an in-depth knowledge of her novels and short stories, Rebecca has contributed an appreciation of Endless Night to the award-winning anthology Books to Die For and written a Christie-inspired short story set on the Orient Express for the New York Times magazine.

Kathryn Harkup is a trained chemist and freelance science communicator who delivers talks and workshops on the quirky side of science. Kathryn’s book A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie was published by Bloomsbury in September 2015.


Daniel Pembrey is a local crime writer and Friend of Chelsea Physic Garden. He has written murder mysteries set in various atmospheric locations, including Amsterdam and Tanzania. His Dutch detective series The Harbour Master will be published by No Exit Press in 2016.

Helen Smith is a British novelist who lives in London. Her first two books, Alison Wonderland and Being Light, followed the adventures of a London detective agency. Her most recent books, The Emily Castles Mysteries, are comedies featuring an amateur sleuth.

More about the event here.

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